Erasmus Exchange at KHiB


Next Thursday I fly to Norway to start my semester abroad studying at the Bergen Academy of Art and Design (Kunst- og designhogskolen i Bergen). The time has gone quickly and I can’t believe I’ll be studying in such an amazing city and institution so soon (term starts early in Norway!).


Bergen, west of Oslo, is situated at the entryway to the fjords. It is not always this sunny!

As my work shifts towards an interest in place and history, I wonder how four months living in Bergen will affect what I produce. I worried briefly about going away since I have become so interested in Scotland and national identities. So how may the Scandinavian landscape be compared to the Scottish highlands? Their respective histories? Our relationship to these things; nature and urban living. There is actually a lot of scope for developing these ideas in Norway (extending from my work on urban spaces it also interested me to learn that Bergen does not allow any public advertising).

Finally, it is worth noting that with the fall-out from Brexit, the big question amongst people in creative industries is what it all means for the future of the arts.  I look forward to studying alongside students from all over Europe and the world and what may be learnt from a country that is both techinically outside the EU and a major player on the international contemporary art stage.

I feel this study exchange will also be a chance for a fresh start, to meet new people and devote my energies to developing my working practice for a while.
Then back in Newcastle by January!

Here I’ll end with a collaborative project by Jayne Dent and Ellen Welsh, for which they exchanged DIY zines each month during Jayne’s semester away in Aarhus, Denmark.

“Do you feel like something has come between us?”

My Trip to Dumbarton (Part 2)

This morning Carmen tells me that a lot of people left Dumbarton in the 60s for better work prospects in Canada and Australia. An elderly man from Australia has stayed at the B&B numerous times, coming back to Scotland to visit family. She worries about him, especially on those long-haul flights but he’s reassured her that he loves to travel.
Not long before I came the B&B was fully booked by a family who had come to scatter the ashes of a loved one.
Even today there’s not much work in this part of Scotland.
When she first moved to Dumbarton she wasn’t keen. She was twenty-five and had grown up in Glasgow. Now she likes the quiet, “… and London! Far too busy!”
Her brother complains that where they live in Italy is too hot. This part of Scotland is a lot like there but cooler.

Loch Lomond

In his 1986 directorial debut True Stories‘a film about a bunch of people in Virgil Texas’ – David Byrne, as the deadpan narrator, comments on the social significance of shopping malls:
“Shopping malls have replaced the town square as the centre of many American cities. Shopping itself has become the activity that brings people together. In here music is always playing.”

It was of great interest to me to discover Loch Lomond Shores in Balloch, on the southern-most part of Scotland’s largest freshwater loch – home to an adventure park, bird sanctuary, aquarium and shopping centre. After a half-hour bus journey north from Dumbarton I eventually find myself at the shores looking out across the loch, towards Ben Lomond in the far distance, obscured by low cloud. Behind me the mystical soundtrack from the aquarium outdoor speakers mingles discordantly with Eurythmics’ Sweet Dreams coming from the carousel, occasionally punctuated by the drone of construction work. A week ago, sat in the Newcastle University library preparing for this trip, the more hotels, B&Bs and golf courses that I came across, the more I realised just how much this part of Scotland depends on tourism and recreation. Visitors come for a taste of Scotland’s natural beauty but few want the harsh realities that come with it and even fewer want to actually live here. I am guilty of this too and will happily pay for convenience. I’m so unprepared for the Scottish Highlands that the raincoat and rucksack I wear were borrowed last-minute from friends. My shoes are New Balance trainers.



Far out into the Trossachs National Park, North-East from here, is Rob Roy’s grave. I had considered visiting it but I would’ve need a car to get out there.
Earlier I had walked up to Balloch Castle and around the edge of the Loch. My Dad told me during a recent phonecall that I had in fact been to Loch Lomond as a baby on a long ago family holiday. He then corrected my pronunciation of ‘Lomond’.


I had decided that I would spend the afternoon walking south-west from the loch to Helensburgh, as there  is an official walking and cycling route known as the John Muir Way which follows the A818. Perhaps I was walking four and a half miles to prove some point to myself but the journey, though long and tiring, was very rewarding – passing through farmland, forests and overlooking beautiful views. In Helensburgh is the famous Hill House – of Mackintosh design. Recuperating in the gardens after my long journey, surveying the Clyde estuary, I thought about how art and heritage sites provide places of refuge. I never feel calmer than when I’m in a gallery. Saying that, on the approach to Hill House, my neurotic brain feared that I might be turned away at the gate for how gross I felt, and must’ve looked, after a day of walking.

Venturing into the town, it hadn’t occurred to me that a place like Helensburgh closes up shop after 5pm. As I wander aimlessly along the quiet promenade I come across a statue dedicated to John Logie Baird: ‘Native of this town, inventor of television’. It seems appropriate that David Byrne should be born just up the Clyde from the real ‘Television Man’.


THURSDAY (voting day…)
Carmen is very impressed that I walked all the way from Loch Lomond to Helensburgh. As I enjoy my last vegetarian fry-up along with the abundant cereal, tea and toast that I will desperately miss, I ask her how long the retail park has been here. Thinking for a while, she estimates twenty years. She goes on to say that the ASDA is open twenty-four hours a day, which is unheard of in Italy. When her brother visited last month, he went down there at 3am because he was so curious. He came back marvelling at how quiet and peaceful it was.
Looking out at the nursery for the final time, parents waving through windows before getting back into cars en route to Glasgow, I wonder: would this be such a bad place to live?

Dumbarton Castle
The old castle fortress sits upon an enormous volcanic rock, hundreds of millions of years old. Out on a small peninsula where the Leven meets the Clyde and looking south across it, one may forget the town completely. Sat at the foot of Dumbarton Castle in the glorious sunshine, construction workers tinker above me as I watch the morning dog walkers. You wouldn’t think a major vote on the country’s future was taking place today. This unnerves me but I try not to think about the referendum (I sent my postal vote over a week ago).
There are only a few other visitors, as it is not yet the main tourist season: an American family, a young German couple, a few senior citizens. At the sight of my student ID card, the man behind the counter tells me he’s from Newcastle, adding a little solemnly that he’s not been back to visit for a long time. I didn’t pick up on the geordie accent at first as he had a thick ginger beard and wore a tartan blazer.

The views from atop Dumbarton Castle are stunning. On a clear day you can see Ben Lomond to the north and up the Clyde all the way to Glasgow. Having checked out of the B&B I climb the steep summit with heavy luggage on my back. At the top I have to lie down in the shade behind the wall of the old gunpowder magazine, overheating and completely shattered. Flat on my back I close my eyes and listen to the sound of the wind, birds, insects; the distant hum of industrial machinery from the banks of the Leven far below. I stay like this for a long time. On this ancient fortress, this prehistoric volcanic rock I think: whatever happens in twenty-four hours’ time, I want to keep this moment. Some time later I get up and venture inside the magazine. When my eyes adjust to the darkness I look up and notice with surprise, a swallows’ nest. Out of the blinding daylight, more of them dive-bomb through the doorway to try their luck getting a seat in it.

I am back for another stopover before getting on my train home to Newcastle, again with no real plan. I decide to climb Calton Hill to relax on the grass and survey the city as the early evening sun baths the spires and rooftops in a golden glow. After my three day trip, I contemplate the possibility of living in Edinburgh after I graduate. Tourists sit around the National Monument or take photos by the Portuguese Canon. We all look up as a plane flies overhead, towing the Remain banner. Sitting there then, I can only hope so.

My Trip to Dumbarton (Part 1)


An account of my Bartlett funded trip to Dumbarton, Scotland, on the brink of the EU referendum – which now seems like an age ago. Questioning what we consider to be our national and cultural identities, the trip came to be contextualised by the vote, making my return to the Friday morning result all the more poignant.

Having given myself a ninety-minute stopover between trains with no plan and a heaving rucksack, I spend my time wandering aimlessly around Waverly Station and Princes Street Gardens. As anyone familiar with this part of Edinburgh knows, the drone of bagpipes can be heard almost constantly above the sound of traffic and tourists – usually from a busker dressed in full highland gear on the corner by the Scott Monument.
Passing Irn-bru trucks, gift shops selling t-shirts and shortbread and Walter Scott quotes plastered on walkways and escalators I can’t say that my fascination with Scotland is entirely removed from the image the tourist industry needs to push. Yet, though I love Edinburgh, this flying visit is the first time that this saturation of Scottish cliché has really bothered me. Though it doesn’t take away from my love of its history, its friendly people, the beautiful architecture, the splendour of Arthur’s Seat overlooking a lively metropolis.
A few years back on my foundation course in Camberwell, south London, a Canadian friend once declared with awe, “that church on the corner is older than my hometown.”


I like to visit the Scottish National Gallery, preferably on a quiet morning so I can have the paintings to myself. The attendants shuffle about in tartan-print trousers.

Dumbarton is a town on the north bank of the river Clyde, northwest of Glasgow. The name comes from the Scottish Gaelic Dùn Breatann meaning ‘Fort of the Britons’. It was once the seat of the ancient medieval kingdom of Strathclyde. In the weeks preparing for this trip, most of the tourist advice I read, besides recommending a visit to the castle and the Denny Tank Museum, would quickly move on to other places of interest beyond the town. Dumbarton seemed like a prime location for getting to other places. But when the train finally arrives at Dumbarton Central and I see the distant, rolling hills which border the town, I feel as though I have come to a very interesting and beautiful place. Dumbarton is not Edinburgh though, and a precocious art student with a Canon DSLR in tow stands out. Walking past council estates, bingo halls, supermarkets and pubs, I feel anxious that the people I pass can tell that I’m southern. It is the anxiety of feeling foreign – though I hasten to acknowledge my privilege that I can hide this fact if I keep my mouth shut. The people I would meet here would know me as a tourist from London (yet how can I convey to them that I’m even sure if I consider that ‘home’, in my dialect which becomes more pronounced the further north I go)?

Though I have a camera to take photographs and footage for a possible film project, settling into my room at the B&B, I worry that I might not be able to find enough to do over the next three days.
David Byrne had brought me to Dumbarton. He was born here in 1952 before his family emigrated to North America not long after.

“My family came from Scotland, then they went to look for work. They found some work in Canada. There was work there… then they went to Baltimore to look for more work.” (Interview with Jools Holland, 2004)

Though I’m sure David Byrne wasn’t singing about Scotland, what I come across in my initial explorations of the town resonate with a lot of Talking Heads lyrics: vast retail parks with plenty of parking, disused factories, industrial sites, and – I must confess – my own ‘urbanist’ fear of the small town. Yet Dumbarton strikes me as a place where the sublime and mundane meet in a beautiful poignancy. The local Morrisons is situated on the backdrop of the magnificent Dumbarton Rock; the old whisky factory, demolition of which was begun in the 90s, stands burnt out on the side of the road to the town centre (later that evening I pass a fire crew attending to a small blaze that had started on the rough grassland of the site). It is a stereotype of the North American to claim a distant heritage to ‘mother Europe’. Scotland enjoys a healthy flow of tourism from the US. Here a McDonalds and a Frankie and Bennie’s sit on the edge of the retail park, overlooking the road to Glasgow.

For my visit I have brought a walking guide compiled by the West Dunbartonshire Heritage Trail which details historical, social and architectural sites of interest around the town. Whoever wrote it was not shy of expressing their dismay for the unsympathetic modern redevelopments of otherwise wonderful examples of Scotland’s architecture. The 1968 extension to the public library, for example, doing “no architectural favours to the original.”

I had been given a very warm welcome to the Positano B&B by the owner: a woman called Concetta. It was her mother Carmen who would be preparing my breakfasts for the next three mornings. I had been hoping to meet some American tourists at the B&B and possibly broach the subject of David Byrne with them, however at this time I was the only guest. But this gave me Carmen’s cooking, conversation and unerring generosity all to myself. She has been helping her daughter to run the B&B for twelve years now. Their family come from Italy and though Carmen was born in Scotland she grew up in the small village of Filignano until her father decided to move the family to Glasgow permanently when she was seven or eight years old.
“It’s mostly farmland there and there wasn’t much work.”
Concetta (“or Tina as I call her”) and her siblings were born and raised in Dumbarton.
Carmen’s father would’ve been one hundred this year and they still go back to Italy to visit family and stay in the house he renovated. The rooms in the B&B all have Italian names, after places of significance to their family. Across the hall from the kitchen/dining room the plaque on a door reads Filignano.
She says that everyone is very friendly in Dumbarton, that that’s what the American tourists seem to notice in particular. She prefers Glasgow to Edinburgh: Glasgow feels like a newer city. A lot of the buildings are newer. It’s a city for young people. Edinburgh is older and attracts older people interested in history.
“Though who isn’t interested in their history.”
Dumbarton is largely a commuter town. Out the window we watch parents dropping off their children for the day at the nursery next door. Most of them will be heading to work in Glasgow.
Carmen gives me lots of suggestions for things to do in the region. When I say that I’m considering spending the day in the town she encourages me to go and see more interesting things elsewhere.

The Denny Tank Museum
Dumbarton used to have an affluent shipbuilding industry at the centre of which were William Denny and Brothers Company – one of the most famous of the Clyde shipyards – founded in 1840. The first of its kind, the Denny Tank was an indoor testing facility. Boat hull designs would be cast from wax and tested in the water tank to perfect their shape for speed and aerodynamics. I am the first visitor to the museum that day and a young man about my age gives me a tour, telling me all about shipbuilding in Dumbarton and the importance of the Denny company during the Second World War. The industry died out by the 60s as Denny’s investment into hovercraft technology didn’t provide the viable future for the company they had hoped. He also tells me about the burnt-out whisky factory which can be spied from the windows of the museum.
I wonder if he likes Talking Heads but there doesn’t seem to be a good moment to ask.

In the Superintendent’s meeting room I come across an older employee preparing to sketch out scale dimensions of the TS Queen Mary – a 1930s paddle steamer built in Dumbarton by the Denny Company. The ship has recently been returned to the Clyde and there are plans to restore it and berth her permanently in a dry dock in Glasgow. Before that they want to sail her around for a while as a floating restaurant. He tells me this with a knowing, cynical look, “they always think it’s a good idea but these things never work.”
The measurements he is marking out on a diagram have been requested for the building of the dry dock and he is working with books from the museum’s archive. In our technological, information-saturated age, I love to see this active use of original archival material.
He tells me more about the history of the shipbuilding industry in the region; that it was an important provider of work and training for young boys, considering this was before the introduction of the Welfare State. The poorest Scots were very short and he claims that even to this day, a tall Scot is an indication of affluence (though i’m not yet sure if this hereditary aspect is true…)
Upstairs in the old tracer analysis room he talks me through the exhibits on display – most of which are from the war effort. I’m struck most by a compact mechanical calculator. One of the first of its kind, the designer Curt Herzstark was an Austrian Jew sent to the Buchenwald concentration camp. Called upon to design a special mechanical calculator for the Nazis as a gift to the Fuhrer, this preferential treatment and his delaying the finishing of the calculator subsequently saved his life. Contemplating the calculator in the museum display I think of an Austrian friend who, at this time, is making her own trip around Scotland with her parents.
On my way out I thank the younger man who first showed me around. The museum is still quiet but the café is beginning to get busy.


After a long walk along the north bank of the Clyde I head back to town and sit for a while in the public library. If you like a good library I highly recommend it. The study spaces are quiet and comfortable and it houses extensive local and family history archives. At the museum I had picked up a postcard showing an aerial view of the town, castle and dockyards during the war. I wondered if the Byrnes might’ve lived in one of the houses pictured that were demolished to make way for the retail park. I realise I could probably find out all I want to know about the Byrne family in this library but I’m not convinced as to what I would gain from that.
Outside, across the busy roundabout, a bronze statue of Peter Denny stands in front of Dumbarton’s Municipal Buildings.

Back at my room in the B&B I am getting more and more attached to a tartan blanket I found in the wardrobe.


Performing at Mintier for blipblipblip

Sincerest apologies for the lack of news and activity on this blog. Nonetheless I thought I’d finally share some photos from the East Street Arts exhibition in Leeds that I was involved with last month: Doubles Series + Mintier, organised by blipblipblip.

For Mintierblipblipblip’s new-look, annual ‘Interim show’ – artists Clare Charnley and Lucy Clout requested submissions of artworks that were performative in nature.
With the ‘event’ context being so paramount to live performance, chances to exhibit and test ideas can be hard to come by. It was really special, therefore, to be offered an opportunity that catered to my current practice so well and that spaces are being created for experiencing and discussing the varied spectrum of contemporary performance art.

I performed a new work called Audiophilia: a live performance with record player, desk lamp and microphone. To find out more about it, read my conversation with Isabelle Kenningham for the exhibition catalogue here.
Other exhibitors included Nellie Saunby whose work I Spit out the Pips, showcased the performative potential of video and how objects may be presented as an archive of past performed actions. The pips in question were displayed on clean, sensible plinths, which struck me as highlighting the humour which underpins her work.
I also had the pleasure of seeing Lizzie Masterton perform Pooling for the opening preview – an intense solo performance which held the audience in suspension. Her use of spoken text and moving her body around the room in a way so as to reassess her relationship to physical space reminded me of the work of Jeremiah Day – an artist I have been looking to recently in my own work. However, her interests also extend to the ‘immaterial body’, virtual online presence, looking particularly to ASMR Youtube culture.

This experience has made me realise just how much I love the live event and I hope to devote myself to it more in future. I feel that Audiophilia has been a progression for me in working more theatrically and using sound and the voice as material. What I thought most valuable, however, was to be able to meet so many other creative people from different parts of the UK.

See more of Nellie Saunby’s work here
and Lizzie Masterton’s work here

Upcoming show in Leeds

My work has been chosen to be part of blip blip blip‘s ‘Doubles Series + Mintier’ at East Street Arts, Patrick Studios!
For the preview night I will be performing a piece which marks the current culmination of my work on David Byrne.


Harry Maberly

Doubles Series:
Lucy Clout & Clare Charnley
Katy Bentham, Harry Maberly, Lizzie Masterton, Lachlan McFeely Bolt, Nellie Saunby
12/05/16 – 26/05/16

Private View: 6-8pm Wednesday 11th May 2016

The doubles series asks a mid career artist to invite another artist, with whom they have some form of educational or artistic relationship, to make an exhibition with them. In the seventh instalment of the series Lucy Clout has invited her mother Clare Charnley to collaborate with her.

Mintier is the updated version of blip blip blip’s annual exhibition Interim – taking its name from last year’s Ciara Phillips and Edwin Pickstone anagrammed letterpress poster edition. Now open to all current penultimate year BA Fine Art students at British art schools, this year the selectors Lucy Clout and Clare Charnley asked only for submissions of works that are performative in nature.

Lucy Clout (b. 1980, Leeds) is a London based artist working primarily in video. She studied on the Foundation Course at Leeds College of Art in 2000/2001 and then at Goldsmiths where she now teaches. She completed an MA in Sculpture at the Royal College of Art in 2009. Recent exhibitions include; Limoncello London; CCA Glasgow; V Arts Centre Shanghai; CAG, Vancouver and New Shelter Plan, Copenhagen. Her work has been screened in institutions including the Whitechapel Gallery, London; ICA, London; Tramway, Glasgow and CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco. In 2014 she won the Jerwood / Film and Video Umbrella award.

Clare Charnley (b. 1949, Leeds) is a visual and live artist based in Leeds. She studied on the Pre Diploma Course at Manchester College of Art in 1968/1969 and was then part of the first cohort of students to study on the BA Fine Art programme at the newly formed Leeds Polytechnic (later to become Leeds Metropolitan University and then Leeds Beckett University) where she subsequently taught until 2015. She completed an MA in Fine Art at the Chelsea College of Art in 1989. She is currently exhibiting in No Quiet Place, The Tetley, Leeds. Other recent exhibitions and projects include; Spring Lamb, Yorkshire Sculpture Park; Sunscreen, One Thoresby Street Nottingham; Torino Performance Art, Turin, Italy; Archetype Drift, Johalla Projects Gallery, Chicago; and PNEM Sound Art Festival, Netherlands.

Katy Bentham (b.1994, London) is currently studying at Newcastle University. Recent exhibitions include A Quiet Position: a field recording sound installation curated by Jez Riley French and Pheobe Riley Law for End of the Road Festival; Fail Better, The Newbridge Project, Newcastle upon Tyne; and Phantasma, World Headquarters, Newcastle upon Tyne.

Harry Maberly (b. 1993, Ipswich) is currently studying Intermedia Art at Edinburgh College of Art. Recent exhibitions include Absurd Mode, Coburg Gallery, Edinburgh; ESAF (Edinburgh Student Arts Festival), Edinburgh; Pollyanna, Paradise Palms, Edinburgh; Shift & Spin, Stanley Mills, Perthshire.

Lizzie Masterton (b. 1994, Ashington) is currently studying at Wimbledon College of Art. Recent exhibitions include Razzmatazz Vol. II, Cass Art gallery, Kingston upon Thames; PARK 16, Wimbledon; and a collaborative performance with Natasha Swingler and Monika Dorniak at CSM MA Interim Show, The Laundry Gallery.

Lachlan McFeely Bolt (b. 1993, Edinburgh) is currently studying at Glasgow School of Art. Recent exhibitions include ‘Ultimate Solitude’, The Art School, Glasgow and ‘Illusions of Existence’, a film work screened to the congregation of Kelvinbridge Parish Church, Glasgow.

Nellie Saunby (b.1995, Sheffield) is currently studying at Newcastle University. Recent exhibitions include Strand Exhibition, Newcastle University; https:// and Fail Better, The Newbridge Project, Newcastle upon Tyne; and Narrative,  Newcastle University.

Upcoming Second Year Show

We’ve managed to secure a show for the entire year group at Hoults Yard in Ouseburn!

A few weeks ago I didn’t think I was able to organise people, arrange ‘site visits’ and finances – and yet I find myself doing it!
Naturally everyone in the second year has been embarking on their own projects and burgeoning practices so it’s nice to have an exhibition to bring everyone back together and remind us that we still need to function as a year group. But also what we can achieve with our collective effort!

We hope this exhibition will sew the seeds for future projects and the eventual degree show!

Thursday the 5th May. Hoults Yard, The Pattern Shop.
Put it in your diaries!


(the man and dog ain’t with us…)